Features

Meet Sarah Candeloro, Three Time All-Conference Athlete and Now, Professional Tennis Coach

Professional Tennis Coach Sarah Candeloro
Source: S. Candeloro

Charles Anyanwu

Candeloro is a full-time Professional Tennis Coach for Dover Indoor Tennis and coaches tennis players of all ages ranging from youth players to adults, in her local tennis community.

As an Accounting & Finance graduate from The University of Tennessee at Martin, Candeloro hasn’t forgotten her love for the game of tennis. After getting her start at the very facility she currently coaches for, Candeloro continues to pass the torch to the many tennis players she coaches at Dover Indoor Tennis.

Candeloro got into tennis at a young age, but the way she did is quite fascinating. “I started playing tennis because of my cousin…I had just quit playing baseball, because my dad said that I couldn’t play with the older boys anymore, not because I couldn’t handle it but, because it was getting a little dangerous because I wanted to play with my older brother. So I quit baseball…My cousin was taking a tennis lesson at Dover Indoor Tennis and he invited me to the beginner group he was in. He ended up quitting and I ended up staying with it, and that so began the story.” says Candeloro

Candeloro’s father, Dan Candeloro, is a former Delaware State University Alumnus and Hornet Hall of Fame football player. 

Once she started her tennis career, Candeloro accomplished a lot as her career developed and progressed. Some of her most notable accomplishments came from high school and college. “I would say as a tennis player, (some of) my biggest accomplishments were in high school. I was a part of the ‘Delaware Nightmare’ Team Tennis Team at Dover Indoor and we were down six games going into the final match of the championship. In this championship you only play six games per match, so it could’ve been 3-3 or 4-2. So, we were down six games going into the final match so we had to win 6-0 in order to force a tie-breaker. And my partner and I saved three match points and we won 6-0 forcing the tie-breaker. And in the tie-breaker we won 10-1 against a very difficult team and it sent our team to the national championship!”

Candeloro (Center) Posing with her UTM Teammates. Source: S. Candeloro

Shortly after going to the Junior Team Tennis (JTT) National Championship Tournament her senior year of high school, she received a full athletic scholarship to play Division I tennis at The University of Tennessee at Martin, where she would later get her degree. While on a scholarship, Sarah went on to compete at the collegiate level and attain even more accolades. During her tenure, Candeloro says, “I was a three Time All-Conference athlete, twice on the ‘First Team’ and once on the ‘Second Team.’ I was also ‘Female Athlete of the Year’ my senior year.”

After graduating, she made her way back to Delaware, where she unexpectedly ended up, taking a full-time coaching position at Dover Indoor Tennis. Wanting to stay involved with tennis, she remained in touch with her childhood tennis coach and Dover Indoor Tennis owner, Gaby Brengle, throughout college. After coming back to Delaware, she ended up reconnecting with Brengle, who then offered her the opportunity to coach at the Dover Indoor Tennis facility. Shocked, Candeloro took the offer. 

Candeloro Celebrating After Winning a Point in a College Match. Source: S. Candeloro

With humility, Candeloro goes on to say “I was actually going to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), because my degrees were in accounting and finance. And basically, (when) I came back and Gaby Brengle, the owner and my coach growing up, asked me what I wanted to do when I came home. I told her what I was planning, and she replied, ‘Well, would you rather be doing the sport that you love?’ And I was like, ‘well yeah, but how?’ She was like, ‘well you could just start coaching at the indoor and we want you to take over certain lessons…’ I was like ‘oh ok sure!’ So, I said I would try it out for a year, and I loved it! So, here I am still today!”

In a brief interview with Dover Indoor Tennis owner, Gaby Brengle, she mentions what Candeloro was like as both a tennis player and a professional tennis coach. 

“As a junior (tennis player) she really loved to practice! What’s neat about her was, when she first started she was the worst one in her group. Everybody was better than her. And then she got better than all of them, just because she worked so hard. And now as a tennis pro, I think because she was the worst one in her group, she really learned technique. And now her technique is par-none. She can break down somebody who has a problem because she figured it all out along her way too. And that makes her an incredible coach!” says Brengle. 

As a coach, Candeloro continues to prove to be influential and successful. Having had success at the Division I level, her success followed into her coaching. Besides giving private lessons everyday, Candeloro led the Dover Indoor Junior Team Tennis (JTT) Team the “Delaware Nightmare,” to two JTT National Championship appearances. 

Candeloro described the experience saying, “As a coach sending two teams to nationals has been pretty cool! And the second team I sent, we came in fourth so that was a really huge accomplishment because as a player I never did that. Coaching (that team) was really exciting!”

Sarah Candeloro Coaching her Delaware Nightmare 18 & Under Team at Sectionals.    
Source: C. Anyanwu 

However, being a coach isn’t just all fun and games, it comes with its own difficulties as well. As with any sport, developing an athlete’s skill is a part of the process, something Coach Candeloro acknowledges.

”Understanding what each person can do on the tennis court on a given day is tough. You have some players who really improve quickly each week, and then you have other players who’s progression are a little slower. So, you can’t just expect each player at a certain age or a certain level where you think they’re at to be able to do the same drills. The hardest thing is not pushing someone too hard past, past the point they can do. You have to really understand what each athlete is capable of,” Candeloro says.

Off the Court when she isn’t coaching, Sarah enjoys playing Animal Crossing and watching Netflix.

Candeloro giving advice to a Delaware Nightmare player during a changeover. Source: C. Anyanwu

When asked about giving about advice to future tennis players, here is what Candeloro had to say, “Every day you go on the court, try to improve one thing. Whether it’s footwork, or your forehand, or your backhand, a serve, try and improve one thing everyday. Because if you can improve something, even if it’s a little thing everyday, those things add up and you will find success…Go out on the court with a good attitude trying to improve something each time you’re on the court.”

If you are ever looking for a professional tennis coach to take you in the next steps of your tennis training, you may not have to look any further than an extraordinary coach like Sarah Candeloro. 

Categories: Features, Interview, Sports

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